Charleston Mercury Extra, Rare Broadside Announcing South Carolina Secession, December 1860

Printed broadside, 12 x 22 in., issued by the Charleston Mercury Extra, December 20, 1860. In bold letters, the broadside announces the degradation of the Union and the secession of South Carolina. Printed fifteen minutes after the ordinance passed, it is the first Confederate publication. A portion reads: 

Passed unanimously at 1.15 o'clock, P.M., December 20, 1860. An ordinance to dissolve the Union between the State of South Carolina and the other States united with her under the compact entitled "The Constitution of the United States of America." The Ordinance adopted by us in Convention, on the twenty-third day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States was ratified, and also, All Acts and parts of Acts of the General Assembly of the State, ratifying the amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed; and that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states, under the name of the "United States of America," is hereby dissolved. 

Attached to the bottom portion of the broadside is a signed oath from the Assistant Editor of the Richmond "Enquirer," John Grame, that verifies its authenticity and claims that it was in his possession since 1861. 

Secessionism was not a novel idea for slave owning states in the 1860s, but a widely accepted notion. Since the formation of the United States, states dependent on the slave trade fought to protect their interests. By the 1790s, some began entertaining the idea of secession, but various “compromises” abated the divorce.  As time passed, tensions built. Other government policies pushed some towards secession. Lincoln’s nomination as president was the final event that convinced slave states to separate. 

Not one person in Charleston, SC voted for Lincoln in the 1860 presidential race. Outraged after hearing about his victory, the people of Charleston demanded South Carolina secede. Within a few days, two Senators from South Carolina submitted their resignations, and on December 20, 1860, the South Carolina legislature unanimously voted to enact the "ordinance" posted on the broadside. No doubt enthused by their new freedoms, the people of Charleston felt that the North could no longer interfere with its traditions and institutions. The Charleston Mercury, one of the outspoken venues for States’ Rights activists throughout the South, jubilantly declared South Carolina's independence by printing the broadside almost immediately after the ordinance passed. One of the editors commented that, “as the brief and expressive words of the ordinance were read from our bulletin by the crowd, cheer after cheer went up in honor of the glorious event” (Information obtained from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History Website, January 5, 2017). 


Provenance: Property of N. Flayderman & Co.


The broadside is fully separated at the central horizontal fold. The separation passes through the phrase, "it is hereby declared and ordained." The broadside includes light horizontal and vertical fold lines, with a few very small holes in areas where horizontal and vertical lines cross. Three stains along right margin. Few short tears, some light chipping along margins. Some faint, scattered spotting. The attached note is partially separated from broadside.

Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

Have a Similar Item?

Request An Estimate
Auction Notes:

Let Cowan's Handle Your Shipping! 

Cowan's Auctions is one of the only houses to offer full service, in-house shipping.  

Our experts pack and ship over 5,000 purchases each year.  
Shipping costs are included on every invoice to make getting your items as fast and easy as possible. 

For more information, click HERE or contact shipping@cowan.com.